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NASCAR Modified Tour Goes Kentucky Derby This Weekend

It's the debut Tour event at the 0.375-mile New Hampshire bullring.


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The Inaugural Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation on Saturday at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway is not going to be like any other NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event on the 2022 schedule.

The event takes its name from the Kentucky Derby, the famous horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, that typically draws more than 150,000 people to Churchill Downs.

Josh Vanada, the owner of JDV Productions and promoter of the Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation, explained he was looking for a way to connect the race at Lee USA Speedway to a major sporting event during the month of May when he settled on the Kentucky Derby theme.

“When you think of the some of the most iconic regional motorsports events, they are tied to larger sporting events happening nationally,” Vanada said. “I was looking to see what major sporting events were going on in May, and that one (the Kentucky Derby) stuck out. I thought there was something we could do with that, and it turns out that, in fact, there was.

“When you start to think of … in the Kentucky Derby, what’s competing? Horses,” Vanada continued. “Well, what’s under these Whelen Modified Tour cars? 600 horsepower.”

Vanada is not just borrowing the Derby name for Saturday’s race. He is utilizing a number of the same themes for the Granite State Derby, including having a bugler on hand as part of the pre-race ceremonies. Tracking down a bugler, as it turned out, was one of the more difficult parts of organizing the Granite State Derby.

“It was probably one of the most challenging things of the whole event,” said Vanada, who confirmed his bugler for the Granite State Derby will even wear a red sport coat just like the bugler who performs at the Kentucky Derby. “Somehow or another we found a local music organization, and it turns out he does placement for musicians at events. We told him what he wanted to do, and he said no problem.”

Having a bugler perform is just one small part of what Vanada and his JDV Productions team are doing to give Saturday’s race a Derby flare.

“The pre-race will mirror very similar to what happens at the Kentucky Derby when the horses are brought to post,” said Vanada. “The trophy is a replica of the Kentucky Derby trophy. I actually saw a picture of it yesterday, it looks truly amazing. It’s going to be really, really cool.

“Our event production, our sound elements and other things you’ll see throughout the event, they’ll make you feel like you’re at a horse race.”

In addition to the Derby theme, the Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation is the first of three races that are part of the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup. The three-race mini series includes the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Lee USA Speedway, Monadnock Speedway and Claremont Motorsports Park and features its own purse and bonus structure.

“Whelen’s partnership on the Granite State Short Track Cup has really I think elevated these three New Hampshire races, and we’ve drawn some local talent who has never competed on the Tour and will make their debut on Saturday or who has had very random starts, but we anticipate competing in the three Cup races,” Vanada said.

Tickets for Saturday’s Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation are available by visiting JDVProductions.com. Tickets for the JDV Experience, an all-inclusive premium ticket package for each of the JDV Production events on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule that includes premium seating and a private autograph session, are also available.


Through three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races this year, Tommy Baldwin Jr. sits atop the series’ car owner standings.

He has accomplished that with three different drivers steering his No. 7 Modified at three different race tracks.

Baldwin opened the season at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway with Mike Christopher Jr. piloting his car to a third-place finish, followed by Jimmy Blewett taking the reins and delivering a seventh-place run at Richmond Raceway in April.

Doug Coby got the call to drive for Baldwin last Saturday night at New York’s Riverhead Raceway in place of Blewett, who sat out the race in order to care for his sick daughter. Coby rewarded Baldwin’s confidence with a dominant victory in the Miller Lite 200, his third in four races at the New York oval.

Those three results combined have given Baldwin a 12-point edge in the owner standings, a position he would like to maintain throughout the season.

With that in mind, Coby will once again pilot Baldwin’s No. 7 this Saturday night at Lee USA Speedway while Blewett continues to spend time with his family at home.

While Coby does not have any NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour experience at Lee USA Speedway since the last event there took place in 1998, he does have experience on abrasive surfaces like the one he’ll face Saturday. He won the last Tour race at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway, another track with a famously abrasive surface.

“At Myrtle Beach, you couldn’t even go 100 percent,” Coby said earlier this week. “In these races, it’s definitely timing of when you take tires, versus when the cautions fall. In the last race I won at Myrtle Beach, we timed our pit stop well, when some others stayed out and were hoping for a caution later in the race, but it never came out. Being a six-tire race at Lee, it’s a big difference to be able to come into the pits twice. Someone may even try to time it right and only pit once and not need the second stop.

“The race is going to be about pacing yourself and not abusing the car. At Riverhead, I was able to pace myself the whole race, and knowing how the car responded to it, it gives me a lot more confidence. At Lee, we will be in a tire saving mindset from the drop of the green. Lee is a great facility and the track is a ton of fun.”


For the first time since he won the opening race of the 2022 season, Matt Hirschman will return to action with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Saturday evening.

Hirschman’s win at New Smyrna in February was his fifth Tour victory dating back to 2005. While he hasn’t been a regular with the Tour since 2014, Hirschman is always a threat when he shows up at the race track.

His victory at New Smyrna was a prime example of that, as he led 112 of 200 laps and held off Eric Goodale at the checkered flag.

Last year in three starts with the Tour, Hirschman won once at New York’s Oswego Speedway and finished no worse than second in the other two events he entered. He also has experience at Lee USA Speedway, where he has at least one victory in a Modified during his career.

If you’re picking favorites for the Inaugural Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation, you can’t go wrong with a thoroughbred like Hirschman.



Race: Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation
Saturday, May 21, 2022
Lee USA Speedway
0.375-mile paved oval
Lee, New Hampshire
Start time:
7 p.m. ET
Posted awards:
Live stream:


  • Patrick Emerling, who currently sits sixth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings, has withdrawn from Saturday’s race in order to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.
  • Jacob Perry will make his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start and first since 2019 on Saturday. His only previous start with the series came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he completed only two laps before retiring from the race following a crash.
  • Steven Dickey Jr., who has experience in a Late Model at Lee USA Speedway, is entered in his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event.
  • Sam Rameau is set for his season debut with the Tour on Saturday. He last competed with the series in 2021, making starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.
  • In addition to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the Granite State Pro Stock Series, NEMA Lites, New England Pro 4 Modifieds and NHSTRA Mini Stocks will also be in action as part of the Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation.

Entry List:

01 Melissa Fifield, Kenneth Fifield Jake Marosz FURY Race Cars Pine Knoll Auto Sales
2 J.R. Bertuccio Jr. Joseph Bertuccio Michael Bologna Troyer Gershow Recycling
3 Jake Johnson Jan Boehler Greg Fournier Troyer Propane Plus – Lin’s Propane Trucks
6 Sam Rameau Sam Rameau Russ Hersey Jr. LFR Dennison Lubricants, Powells Stone & Gravel
07 Patrick Emerling Jennifer Emerling Jan Leaty Troyer Captain Pips Marina & Hideaway
7 Doug Coby Tommy Baldwin Tommy Baldwin Troyer John Blewett Inc
16 Ron Silk Tyler Haydt Philip Moran FURY Race Cars Blue Mountain Machine and Future Homes
18 Ken Heagy Robert Pollifrone Greg Gorman FURY Race Cars Buoy One Seafood Market and Restaurant
22 Kyle Bonsignore Kyle Bonsignore Cam McDermott FURY Race Cars Chalew Performance
26 Gary McDonald Sean McDonald Chad McDonald Troyer
29 Spencer Davis Spencer Davis Alex Query III FURY Race Cars Ionx Supreme Lubricants
34 J.B. Fortin Nicole Fortin Kenneth Lechner FURY Race Cars Red Camel Racing, Johns Fuel Oil, Johns Tree Removal
36 David Sapienza Judy Thilberg Tommy Grasso Chevrolet Sapienza Enterprises
51 Justin Bonsignore Kenneth Massa Ryan Stone FURY Race Cars Phoenix Communications, Inc.
54 Tommy Catalano David Catalano David Catalano FURY Race Cars FX Caprara
58 Eric Goodale Edgar Goodale Jason Shepphard FURY Race Cars GAF Roofing
60 Matt Hirschman Roy Hall Matt Hirschman Troyer PeeDee Motorsports
64 Austin Beers Mike Murphy Ron Yuhas Jr. LFR Dell Electric, Lumire Electrical, Andrew James Interiors,
78 Walter Sutcliffe Jr. Steven Sutcliffe Kevin Anderson Troyer Last Minute Racing
79 Jon McKennedy Tim Lepine Dale Hedquist LFR Middlesex Interiors
82 Craig Lutz Danny Watts Jr. TBA LFR Horton Ave Materials, Riverhead Building Supply
92 Anthony Nocella Anthony Nocella Chris Burdell Chevrolet Nocella Paving, K+D Associates, Airgas
147 Jacob Perry Jack Bateman TBA TBA Jacks Competition Engines
198 Steven Dickey Jr. Cory Plummer Cory Plummer SPAFCO Race Chassis USA Insulation